78% of NFL Players are bankrupt within 2 years of their retirement. 60% of NBA players are broke within 5 years of ending their career.
Although these statistics are disturbing, they don't tell the whole story. Certainly there is the overspending and mismanagement that goes along with being a professional athlete, but these are just some of the reasons why athletes go broke.
To see some of the other factors, keep reading.
People see the big million dollar contracts on TV and think that athletes are unbelievably rich. Some are, but here are the real facts about getting paid in the NFL. The average NFL career is only 3 years. The median salary is $900,000. Athletes don't get paid all at once. They get paid every 2 weeks like most working people. With those facts in mind, here is the pay breakdown:
Two Week Salary of the Average NFL Player (makes $900,000 a year)
|Gross 2 Week Salary||$34,615|
|Agent Fees (3%)||<$1,038|
|Federal Taxes (36%)||<$12,461>|
|State Taxes and Fees (10%)||<$3,462>|
|Net Check Every 2 Weeks||$17,654|
$17,654 is still a lot of money to take home every 2 weeks. The following however are the areas that eat away at that money, often leaving the athlete with little or nothing.
Relatives and friends needing (or wanting) money If you come from a poor or middle class family there are a lot of financial needs. Once one of you gets paid, others will come running. You have to be careful about how much you give.
Buying too much house Buying your mother a $500,000 house is admirable, but if you buy 2 homes (one for her and one for you) that’s $1 million dollars. With 10% down on both and a 30 year mortgage two $500,000 homes will cost a whopping $2,114,302. The monthly payment for the 2 homes is almost $6,000.
Relatives or friends taking advantage of you Being too generous with your friends can cost you big time. Three years ago, Carolina Panthers receiver Mushin Muhammad was sued by Wachovia for nearly $25,000 in unpaid credit card bills.
Muhammad told CBS News, "There was some debt run up by a family member and I was a guarantee on it. So it wasn't my responsibility but in the end I took responsibility for it and it's been settled. source
Pay schedule Getting paid every two weeks means that you have to manage your money. Many athletes don’t have the time or the financial skills to manage that much money effectively. The bigger the lifestyle the more bills and payments need to be made. A financial advisor is almost a must for any unmarried athlete. If the athlete is married then the burden falls on the wife who also may not be skilled enough to handle it.
Divorce Divorce kills every man’s finances, but for an athlete there is no mercy. A cheating or cruel man who makes millions playing a game will certainly feel the wrath of a divorce judge. Be prepared to lose your house, half your earnings and much of the furniture and bling you bought during your career. Ask Kobe Bryant who lost all three of his homes and $75 million in his divorce “settlement”.source
Children out of wedlockThis is the downfall of many professional athletes as child support payments run in the thousands. Terrell Owens pays between 45,000 and $80,000 a month for his 4 kids. This is a bill that lasts at least 18 years, long after your career is over.
Bad Investments Everybody comes out of the woodworks to ask athletes to invest in everything from restaurants to racehorses. Many of these investments don't pan out, leaving the athlete with massive debt. All investments should be carefully considered and investing on your friend's "great idea" usually is a bad idea.
AgentsThe average NFL or NBA sports agent makes 3% commission with the amount varying based on the deal the athlete signs. This payout is BEFORE taxes and comes right off the top (ex: a $1million deal means you give your agent $30,000).
The Government (taxes and fees)As an athlete you are in the highest federal tax bracket of 36%. Combine that state taxes, social security tax, medicare, etc. and almost HALF your salary goes to the government.
The “Lifestyle” (bling, drugs, gambling)This is the area that most people focus on; thinking that all athletes blow their money on jewelry and fancy cars. Sure many do, but as we can see this is not the only reason athletes go broke. The real problem is living like you will be making this money forever when in fact you only make this money for a few years.
Medical Bills Many NFL and NBA players have significant health problems after they leave the game. Many are forced into retirement because of injury, but a long career also often leads to chronic pain in the knees, back or other areas. The cost to see specialists and/or have caretakers is very expensive and is often not covered by insurance.
Having any one of these problems can easily cause bankruptcy. Combining problems (ex: bad lifestyle with too much house) will almost guarantee that the salary you made as a professional athlete will not last much beyond retirement.